European gas prices surged on Friday after workers downed tools at Chevron’s Gorgon and Wheatstone liquefied natural gas projects in Australia, ahead of a potential two-week all-out strike from 14 September.

A Chevron Australia spokesperson confirmed that last-minute talks had failed to avert protected industrial action at its two liquefaction facilities, claiming that the unions were pushing for terms in excess of industry norms.

The European gas benchmark price — TTF or Title Transfer Facility — was up by 13% to €34.50 per megawatt hour ($10.80 per million British thermal units), reported the Financial Times, after industrial action began at the two projects offshore Western Australia that together account for more than 6% of global LNG supply.

‘Apart on key terms’

A Chevron Australia spokesperson told Upstream: “We confirm conciliation sessions with the Fair Work Commission ended Friday 8 September without agreement. Throughout this process, we bargained in good faith and sought to reach an agreement that achieves a market competitive outcome which is in the interests of both employees and the company.

“Unfortunately, following numerous meetings and conciliation sessions before the Fair Work Commission, we remain apart on key terms. The unions continue to seek terms that are above and beyond equivalent terms with others in the industry, including in agreements recently reached.”

‘Torturing toys for fun’

The Offshore Alliance — a partnership between the Australian Workers’ Union and the Maritime Union of Australia — claimed in a Facebook post that within 24 hours of industrial action starting at Gorgon and Wheatstone, Chevron had begun evacuating its contractor workforce from Gorgon.

“Chevron chartered a special flight this morning [Saturday] to Barrow Island to evacuate 50 blue and white-collar contract crew off the Gorgon project. Chevron have now sabotaged their own maintenance programme as a result of their actions,” said the Offshore Alliance.

It added that Chevron’s bosses must have spent too much time as kids watching re-runs of Toy Story, “as their conduct is more akin to Sid’s infatuation with torturing and destroying toys for fun, than running one of the world’s biggest hydrocarbon facilities.

“Anything to save a buck for an outfit which is the worst in the business for screwing over oil and gas workers. Both permanent and contract.”

The Chevron Australia spokesperson said the company would “continue to take steps to maintain safe and reliable operations in the event of disruption at our facilities”.

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